From Cape Town, South Africa, where the Global Conference was taking place all of last week, I received the following update: Researchers, health advocates and policy makers from around the world will focus their attention this week on Cape Town, South Africa, as HIV Research for Prevention (HIV R4P) opens today at the Cape Town International Conference Centre.
Approximately, 1,300 leaders in the fight against HIV/AIDS will participate in the four-day conference, the first global scientific meeting focused exclusively on biomedical HIV prevention.
“HIV R4P will showcase state-of-the-art efforts to slow and halt this epidemic from around the world,” noted Lynn Morris of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) in Johannesburg. “While HIV R4P is a truly global conference, research from African scientists will play a particularly significant role at this meeting.”
The conference opening plenary, “State-of-the-Art: Biomedical Prevention in 2014” sets the tone for this historic meeting with an overview of most significant research progress in efforts to slow and one day end the global AIDS epidemic. South African Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor will keynote a programme that includes:
Lynn Morris of NICD (South Africa) presenting on Prospects for an Antibody-based HIV Vaccine. Morris will discuss the recent discoveries of broad and potent neutralising antibodies against HIV that are bolstering efforts to develop an HIV vaccine.
Jared Baeten of the University of Washington (U.S.) addressing Advances in Antiretroviral-based Prevention Research, including groundbreaking new approaches such as using antiretroviral treatment (ART) to reduce the infectiousness of HIV-infected persons and the use of oral, topical and injectable ART pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV infection.
Anthony Fauci of the US National Institutes of Health, speaking by video on Comprehensive HIV Prevention, addresses the potential synergies between HIV vaccines and other proven and emerging forms of prevention, the opportunities to use new prevention methods in combination and the challenges of making new prevention tools available to the millions of people worldwide who need them.
Research highlights from across the spectrum of biomedical HIV prevention research – including microbicides, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and vaccines – are featured on the HIV R4P opening press conference programme today. Among those highlights:
Ian McGowan of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine (US) presents A Phase 1 Open Label Safety, Acceptability, Pharmacokinetic, and Pharmacodynamic Study of Intramuscular TMC278 LA (the MWRI-01 study). That analysis in 36 women and men found that the long-acting antiretroviral drug, TMC278, was safe and well-tolerated, and provides the potential for protection against HIV infection. Multiple dosing studies of this promising, long-acting approach to HIV protection are now planned.
A second study of the potential of injectable drugs to provide more durable protection against HIV infection is being presented here byWilliam Spreen of GlaxoSmithKline (US).
HIV PrEP Dose Rationale for Cabotegravir (GSK1265744) Long-Acting Injectable Nanosuspension indicated that a quarterly injection of the long-acting integrase inhibitor cabotegravir in macaques was safe and provided a level of drug that is predicted to provide robust protection against HIV infection.
Ongoing animal studies are a precursor to possible future human study of this new approach to HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
The potential of microbicides containing HIV antiretroviral drugs to prevent infection with herpes simple virus (HSV2) is explored in Association of Tenofovir (TFV) Detection with Reduced Risk of Herpes Simplex Virus type-2 (HSV-2) Acquisition in the VOICE (MTN 003) Study, presented by Jeanne Marazzo of the University of Washington (US).
The analysis of VOICE, a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral and vaginal tenofovir for HIV-1 pre-exposure prophylaxis, found that women who used tenofovir gel had a reduced risk for HSV-2 infection. HSV-2 is a common infection in sub-Saharan Africa, which increases the risk of HIV transmission and acquisition.
Turning to HIV vaccines, a study of the RV144 HIV vaccine in South Africans is being presented by Glenda Gray of the South African Medical Research Council. RV144 was the first HIV vaccine to demonstrate a modest level of protection against infection when it was studied in volunteers in Thailand.
The research presented here today, HVTN 097: Evaluation of the RV144 Vaccine Regimen in HIV-uninfected South African Adults, is the first to report on the impact of the vaccine in other populations. The study found that the vaccine regimen produced immune responses in South African volunteers that were at least comparable to or better than those induced in the Thai study – promising news in the effort to develop a globally effective HIV vaccine.
“The advances in vaccine, PrEP and microbicide research presented today at HIV R4P confirm that we have entered one of the most rewarding, and challenging, phases of HIV prevention research since the epidemic began” said HIV R4P co-chair Sharon Hillier of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
“The interactive, interdisciplinary nature of this meeting in particular provides an exceptional opportunity to discuss what many believe will be the most effective approach to slowing the global epidemic – the use of new and emerging prevention modalities in combination.”.
About HIV R4P
HIV R4P is the world’s first and only scientific meeting dedicated exclusively to biomedical HIV prevention research. Through both abstract and non-abstract driven sessions, the conference will support cross-fertilisation between research on HIV vaccines, microbicides, PrEP, treatment as prevention and other biomedical prevention approaches, while also providing a venue to discuss the research findings, questions and priorities that are specific to advancing each modality.
Conference partners include the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center; amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research; the French National Agency for Research on AIDS and Viral Hepatitis (ANRS); the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the Government of Canada; CONRAD; Crucell; the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation; Gilead Sciences; GlaxoSmithKline; the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative; the International Partnership for Microbicides; the Medical Research Council; the US National Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases at the NIH; the NIH Office of AIDS Research; PEPFAR; Sanofi Pasteur; UNAIDS; USAID; ViiV Healthcare; and the Wellcome Trust. Significant in-kind support was provided by AVAC: Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention; Emory University; Imperial College, London; Medical Research Council/UVRI Uganda Research Unit on AIDS; University of Pittsburgh and the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute of the University of the Witwatersrand.
Then I received the following letter from Samuel Kumar of Kitwe from the Zambia AIDS research Foundation:
I am pained by so many talks in HIV forums but there is not much awareness about PEP and PreP, Each time I read in the papers about child defilement my heart stops, defilement has no place in any society and yet we have not popularise the concept of post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to treat those young girls who have probably been exposed to HIV as a result of child defilement. If the media could help spread greater awareness about PEP then we would make a huge leap in halting HIV.
PEP is an ART regimen given to those people who most likely have been exposed to HIV, one such situation is rape and child defilement. The ART is taken for 28 days, and should be started as early as possible but before 72 hours. And the probability of not contracting HIV is 80 per cent, and if the candidate does not contract HIV, then we have a life saved from HIV, this is a wonderful approach, and the candidate wouldn’t have to be taking ART for the rest of her life.
This is a concept that can help children exposed to HIV. There is another approach called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PreP), for example in an husband and wife relationship, let’s assume the husband is HIV positive and for some reasons he is not consistent in using condoms with his HIV negative partner, the in such an event, the female partner could be a suitable candidate for PreP,it’s a single pill called truvada taken regularly by the negative partner, and if the blood levels of the drug is High then there is a 90 per cent chance the female negative partner will not contract HIV.
If only forums like SRHR and other NGOS could take greater initiative to create awareness on PEP and PreP then we could halt HIV cold in its tracts.
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